Liberty & Power: Group Blog
If this is true then people living on this unfortunate strip of land must take their share of responsibility for any violence that descends upon them in the future. Talal Nassar, the chief Hamas spokesman in Syria, has said that “future violence was inevitable.” Article 13 of the Hamas charter states that, “the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement.” Hamas promises the people of Gaza nothing but an endless cycle of carnage until the people of Israel are totally destroyed and there is no reason not to take the organization’s word on this.
If the 1.4 million Gazans not only condone but enthusiastically support the continued killing of Israelis by a relatively small number of Hamas cadres, can they really be considered innocent victims? Does not this Gazan television personality (use close captioning) share some of the blame for the high number of civilian casualties when she laughs upon learning that Hamas has fired a missile from right underneath her office? Do those people who allow their homes, schools, and Mosques to be sites for storing explosives and launching attacks have any kind of justified complaint when those structures are destroyed?
It is unrealistic and unfair for the people of Gaza to expect the people of Israel to continually be on the receiving end of violence with no response. Despite all of the Hamas braggadocio, the past few weeks make it clear that they can not defend the people of Gaza therefore the people of Gaza should not allow them to invite further retaliation.
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
It’s a good speech, as such speeches go. Roosevelt’s voice was strong, he articulated his words clearly, and he spoke with suitable emphasis and emotion at the right places. He was obviously not yet the frail, dying man he would be when he gave his next inaugural speech in 1945.
The speech, which I had never heard before today, struck me in several regards. The president took a couple of swipes at the rich, and he posed as a friend of the little guy — standard rhetorical tactics throughout his presidencies. His principal thrust, however, was to represent the country as standing in grave danger from foreign foes, and to suggest without saying so explicitly that going to war against those foes was imperative if the nation were to survive with its traditional “spirit” of liberty and democracy intact. Although for the most part he framed his attacks on the “isolationists” by innuendo, rather than by frontal assault, he left little doubt that he was battling for the “soul” of the nation by contending that unless the United States threw its full weight against the unnamed foreign enemies, “democracy” was all but doomed in the entire world.
Most of all, however, I was struck by the great amount of sheer mystical collectivism that pervades the speech. Of course, politicians tend to speak in such terms in their public addresses – elevated balderdash is their stock in trade, as a means of concealing the hard realities of their proposals and actions. This speech, however, contains an exceptional amount of “spiritual” talk, and I found myself concluding repeatedly that the president’s declarations, notwithstanding their noble ring, lacked all content: he was referring to things that have no observable referents. Many of his statements were entirely symbolical, wholly without substance. I was reminded of the “mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land,” of which Abraham Lincoln spoke in his first presidential inaugural address. Though Roosevelt’s language did not pack the poetic punch that Lincoln’s did, he sought to touch the same primitive emotions and collective loyalties, drawing the obstreperous and miscreant sheep together into the same “national” fold.He referred more than once to Lincoln.
One of my favorite books is F. G. Bailey’s unjustly neglected masterpiece Humbuggery and Manipulation: The Art of Leadership (1988). Bailey succeeds better than any writer I know in establishing how political leaders, who are essentially gangsters writ large, gain the people’s submission. The followers, he writes
are cajoled into devotion by the leader’s pretended concern or admiration for them or for some cause in which they believe, by a pretense of virtue; it is mostly humbuggery. . . . [T]he role of leader requires performances in defiance of truth, ranging from the mild and on the whole inoffensive metaphorical exaggerations . . . to actions that are carefully written out of autobiographies because they are shamefully dishonest or even criminal.
Listening to Roosevelt’s 1941 inaugural speech, I could not help but think of Bailey’s analysis, in which he also wrote:
Leaders are not the virtuous people they claim to be; they put politics before statesmanship; they distort facts and oversimplify issues; they promise what no one could deliver; and they are liars. . . . [However, and this point is central,] leaders, if they are to be effective, have no choice in the matter. They could not be virtuous (in the sense of morally excellent) and be leaders at the same time.
Think of these words, if you happen to listen to another presidential inaugural speech in the next few days.
"The resentment created when poor migrants take over traditional working-class areas is well documented right across western Europe. This is a bourgeois invasion. Korea and Britain could hardly be more remote and different from each other. Yet these two groups, the Home Counties British and the Korean newcomers, are astonishingly similar: self-contained, reticent, desperate to avoid offence and very bad at making connections, partly because they are both hopeless at foreign languages."
Matthew Engel concludes his article with the words of a local, presumably English, resident,"If you're going to have an ethnic group in your community, I recommend the Koreans."
Jane S. Shaw
In a three-part series, literature professor Thomas F. Bertonneau assesses the scope of their ignorance, the limits of their attention, and the nature of their failure to think. The series starts here at the Pope Center Web site.
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
Hat tip to Ian Goddard
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
Ip also considers whether the U.S. might resort to inflation rather than default in a fiscal crisis, pointing out that Russia in 1998 is just one recent example of many where governments chose debt repudiation over inflation. He however overlooks an even stronger argument. Now that the Fed is paying interest to banks on their reserves, it effectively eliminates much of the remaining revenue (seigniorage) from inflation. Increasing the monetary base is now just an alternative way of issuing government debt.
Meanwhile, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) said the following on the floor of the US Senate on Sunday, January 11th:"I believe we are at the ultimate tipping point in this country. I believe if we don't make drastic changes over the next year and a half, that 2012 will see the default of the U.S. Government on its bills. I honestly believe that. There are a lot of economists who agree with me on that point." Full text and video is available here.
Hat Tip: Marc Joffe
Roderick T. Long
[cross-posted at Austro-Athenian Empire]
Stuff of mine thats newly online:
Aristotles Conception of Freedom [Review of Metaphysics 49.4, June 1996]
Aristotles Egalitarian Utopia: The Polis kat eukhēn [M. H. Hansen, ed, The Imaginary Polis: Acts of the Copenhagen Polis Centre 7, 2005]
A Florentine in Baghdad: Codevilla on the War on Terror [Reason Papers 28, Spring 2006]
Review of Hilary Putnams Collapse of the Fact-Value Dichotomy [Reason Papers 28, Spring 2006]
Amy H. Sturgis
I maintain that his masterpiece, The Prisoner, is one of the most imporant and influential, and to my mind the finest, television series of all time. It certainly has had a lasting impact as a classic text on the nature of liberty.
He was a true and uncompromising original, and he remains an inspiration to generations of creative minds. Patrick McGoohan, Rest in Peace.
David T. Beito
On a related matter, just about everybody knows the theme to The Prisoner or"Secret Agent Man" but relatively few have heard the catchy original theme to his show,"Danger Man." Here it is:
David T. Beito
And I readily concede I chunked aside some of my free market principles when I was told by chief economic advisers that the situation we were facing could be worse than the Great Depression.
So I've told some of my friends who've said -- you know, who have taken an ideological position on this issue, you know,"Why'd you do what you did?"
Hat Tip: James Ostrowski.
David T. Beito
As late as 1938, after almost a decade of governmental"pump priming," almost one out of five workers remained unemployed. Historian Eric Rauchway says this is a lie, a lie spread by conservatives to besmirch the sainted FDR. Nonsense. In 1938 the unemployment rate was 19.1%, i.e. almost one out of five workers was unemployed, this is from the official Bureau of Census/Bureau of Labor Statistics data series for the 1930s. You can find the series in Historical Statistics of the United States here (big PDF) or a graph from Rauchway here. Rauchway knows this but wants to measure unemployment using an alternative series which shows a lower unemployment rate in 1938 (12.5%). Nothing wrong with that but there's no reason to call people who use the official series liars.
From September 2008 through July 2009, Reynolds is presenting his perspective on American history -- America, Empire of Liberty -- on BBC Radio 4. Reynolds charts the development of the United States, exploring three key themes -- Empire, Liberty, and Faith. Later this month, on January 19, Allen Lane publish the book that accompanies the series (available from Amazon.co.uk for £15=00, i.e., half price). And on October 6, Basic Books publish this book in the U.S. Edward Luce’s favorable review in this weekend’s Financial Times will no doubt be the first of many discussions of Reynolds’ arguments.
Jeffrey Rogers Hummel
Jane S. Shaw
With regards to worry about Madoff and guilt by association, Shlaes states that her “advice is to have no such fear. The Madoff scandal is not about how different a Jewish clan is from a Protestant clan. It is about how the two are alike. And how Jewish and Protestant clannishness resembles that of Italian-Americans, Russian-Americans, Chinese-Americans and on down the line. Clannishness transcends any specific group. The clan can add value as a cultural or economic institution. It also harbors a unique power to destroy.”
Cross posted on The Trebach Report
Bananas, of course, must be imported into this country from Latin America and other places where their commercial cultivation has proved profitable.
As for the republican form of government, the American people have progressively repudiated it almost from the time they won their independence from the British Empire, and during the past century, they have increasingly favored a form of electoral dictatorship cum empire in which, every four years, the people cast ballots for one of the candidates put forward by the two wings of the one-party political apparatus. This system, vigorously promoted by the imperial running dogs known as the mainstream news media, brings great delight to the masses, who love a good horse race, even if it has been fixed. They are also kept contentedly semi-comatose by the bread and circuses their masters provide in the form of the welfare-nanny-therapeutic state and its Hollywood adjuncts. The few who object strenuously are tased or shot dead by the police, who are ever ready to serve and protect the state that employs them.
The CBO’s projection does not take into account any addition to the federal budget deficit that may arise from enactment of a “stimulus” bill after the Obama gang takes charge of administering the empire. If the magnitudes now being discussed for this so-called stimulus should prove to be in the right range, the deficit for fiscal year 2009 may turn out to be not $1.2 trillion, but something in the neighborhood of $2 trillion, perhaps 15 percent of GDP. If so, the deficit will be as large in amount as the entire federal budget was as recently as 2002. This prospect may be what cranky commentators such as yours truly have in mind when they speak of “out-of-control federal spending.”
The 2009 deficit arises in part from the CBO’s taking into account outlays of $238 billion as the net subsidy costs for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, plus $18 billion of cash infusions from the Treasury to Freddie and Fannie. It is entirely possible that the estimated net present value of Fannie and Freddie’s future earnings will prove to be too large, and therefore that the subsidy will be greater than projected and the overall federal budget also greater by that extra amount.
With little fanfare, the CBO report ventures to mention that “foreign lenders, who have recently been willing to lend to the U.S. government on very advantageous terms, may become less willing to do so in the future, which would tend to raise interest rates in this country.” To be sure. Indeed, if the Japanese, Chinese, and Arabs, who have been carrying a major part of the load in covering the federal deficits in recent years, should substantially reevaluate the risk of dollar depreciation (or even U.S. repudiation of its debt) and greatly reduce their purchases of U.S. Treasury securities, then drastically higher interest rates and, in response, hyperinflation (with or without price and wage controls) might well be the next chapter of this unpleasant story.
Meanwhile, my advice is: eat bananas while they are still available from producers who will accept U.S. dollars in exchange for them. If the U.S. dollar is totally destroyed, as recent and impending government actions suggest it might be, then we may be reduced to barter, at least for a while. I wonder if we can trade Hollywood films for bananas. And, most important, I wonder whether I can get a job in the movie business, perhaps as an extra for the crowd scenes. I think I have the talent needed for that role.